“This is my journey and it’s as raw as any other persons,” says singer-songwriter Jack Bessant reflecting on his latest solo project Brother Thunder EP.
For the Reef bassist, life-long surfer and solo-artist, this most recent body of work – which also includes the album Lucky Mountain (August 2020) – is the culmination of a road long travelled. There’s a certain symmetry to his journey. Jack grew up on the West Country strawberry farm where he is now raising his own young family, back to the landscape of his childhood, reconnecting to his community. “It’s been about finding my path,” explains Jack, “to just stand in front of a mic with a guitar and harmonica and share songs from the soul that have meaning and emotion and heart.”
These latest releases have been something of a catharsis, confronting an intensely personal subject that has been buried deep. “I had to deal with my brother committing suicide,” he explains. “It was heavy, it was horrific. I’ve managed to deal with it now through my music. I didn’t want to have to talk about it at the time, I didn’t want to have to say it out loud, but it’s important, we have to be able to be raw with each other… It’s been a dark horse on me and hopefully through my music I’m able to help other people, not just with coming to terms with something like that, but the realness of all our lives.”
Recorded on the farm, Brother Thunder EP is far from a dark body of work. It resonates with rich emotion, from rousing basslines and driving guitar, to the soaring highs of soulful harmonies and mournful melancholy of folk rock harp. Jack’s aim is simple, “The EP has given me a certain energy, it’s a release in the real sense of the word. I hope people get something positive out of it, a feeling of ease, a sense of freedom.”
The title track is a foot stomping tribute. “I was lying in bed and heard the most vibrant, dangerous thunder clap echo around Cheddar Gorge. I revelled at nature’s great energy and ability to perform feats of wonder at any given time. It made me think about my late brother and smile, surrendering to the fact that sometimes things are just out of your control,” explains Jack. “Channelling my energy into music, skateboarding and surfing – helped me get through something… that’s kinda the message of the song.”
The second track Never Give Up is an ode to creativity. The video was the brainchild of photographer Tim Gutt and multi-disciplinary creative Shona Heath – famed for producing surrealist, playful and fantastical creations for the most exciting fashion houses and photographers over the last two decades. “I instantly felt a connection with the lyrics,” explains Shona. “It’s light and happy but it goes really deep into the soul. We knew we wanted to do something fun and un-fancy to do justice to the honesty that reverberates through this song.”
“It was all very lo-fi DIY,” says Tim. “Jack came to lend a hand to his alter-ego, giving him all his harmonica and guitar skills. We were a small group of friends tugging and pulling ‘Jacks’s’ ropes, the tune the intuitive guiding force for our collective nerve system. ”
Jack’s greater journey has taken in some of the highest altitudes a musician can strive for – from stadium tours to industry awards and platinum selling albums. As a band Reef started out close to the ocean, with weekly gigs by the beach and salt crusted hair – and it here he still feels most at home. It’s where he’s drawn to when he needs to recalibrate. “I love going camping and surfing, taking just a guitar and a harmonica,” he explains. “I have a lovely family, want to travel a bit, do some gigs here and there and live a little. This is the journey that I’m on and you don’t always want it to be the same, you want to flow.”
Brother Thunder EP is out now with High Head Industries:
Jack Bessant is a solo singer-songwriter and the bassist in platinum selling English rock band Reef, formed in 1993. The current Reef line up includes original member and long time friend Gary Stringer and guitarist Jesse Wood who joined the band in 2014.
Jack wrote his first song for Reef in 1993, ‘Choose to Live’, about the death of his brother.
Suicide is the single biggest killer of men aged under 45 the UK* thecalmzone.net